Spring is here and that means it's time to do a little spring maintenance. Maintenance is the act of spending a small amount of money now to avoid spending a large amount of money later. If you don't pay the $39.95 to change the oil in your car now, you may end up paying thousands of dollars later to have the damaged repaired. Maintenance on our homes works the same way, and many of these inexpensive tasks will save you from a larger bill later.
Your home likely has a gutter system and, unless you have gutter guards, it will fill up with debris. This debris will eventually clog the gutters causing water to build up and add a significant amount of weight. This may ultimately lead to separation from the roof, sagging or rotting of some of the roof structures. Grab a ladder and clean out all debris, and if you're looking for a home improvement worth the extra cost, consider some form of gutter guards.
Cost for cleaning: $0
Cost for Gutter Guards: $7 to $12 per linear foot of gutters.
Change the Batteries
At least once a year, change the batteries in your smoke detectors. FEMA recommends testing your smoke alarm once each month and changing the battery as needed. Make sure to check your detectors when you do your spring maintenance. FEMA also says that if a smoke detector was installed more than 10 years ago, it should be replaced.
Cost: $2 to $4 per battery.
Cost to replace smoke detector: $5 to $50 per detector.
Make spring the time to change your HVAC filters. Although these filters should be changed every three to six months depending on the individual factors of your home, there are other filters in your home that don't need to be changed as frequently.
Cost of Filter: $9 to $35.
Most electronics like computers, stereos and even refrigerators take in air to keep systems cool. Along with that air comes dust and other airborne debris. Spring is the perfect time to vacuum those intakes. Also, check to see if your refrigerator has coils on the back. If it does, vacuum the debris from those.
Turn on the AC
Don't wait for the first hot day to find out that your air conditioner isn't working. Check it out in the spring when the repairs don't have to be done at last minute prices. While you're checking the AC, blow out any debris in the outside compressor. This is just one of many ways to keep costs down in your home.
Cost: $0 (unless the AC needs servicing).
Where does the water go once it hits your home? Your foundation should have a negative grade, meaning that water will flow away from the house instead of pooling against your foundation. If there are areas without this negative grade, grab a shovel and build it up. Water should always flow away from your home.
Cost: $0 unless fill dirt is needed.
Concrete and Asphalt
Any place you have concrete, do a spring powerwashing to remove stains and other debris. Examine your asphalt driveway and seal cracks with the appropriate sealer. Spring is also an ideal time to seal your driveway if this is the year to do that. While you have that powerwasher rented, go ahead and powerwash all of your siding too.
Cost: $4 to $20 for asphalt crack repair.
Many utility companies will do a home energy audit at little or no cost to you. Find the areas where your home has leaks and seal those leaks. A lot of money is lost because of furnaces and air conditioners working overtime to compensate for these leaks. Often, the leaks can be caulked or sealed for very little cost.
Cost: $3 or higher depending on the nature of the repair.
The Bottom Line
These spring maintenance ideas cost very little compared to the cost of repairing a neglected item that was left untouched for years. This, along with your fall maintenance schedule, will extend the life on high dollar systems like HVAC, your roof and driveway. If you're not sure if anything in your home needs maintenance, you may want to consider a home inspection.